This was a week of difficult firsts for me. First Thanksgiving since Grandmother’s stroke, first Thanksgiving since Granddaddy died, first time back to Somerset since Granddaddy died, first time back at the nursing home where he died since the night of the visitation, first time driving down the highway and seeing the John Deere sign knowing my dad doesn’t own that store any longer. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect back on the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout the year. For us this year, it was a time of asking for the grace to be thankful for the pain He’s allowed in our path this year. And for the grace to see that His faithfulness has never wavered.
There were some moments this week that were just hard for me to get through, and because those moments came my way I’m assuming they came for everyone in the family. But there were sweet moments this week as well. We began the week with Abigail’s baptism, a moment we’ve prayed for since before she was born. And we finished it by celebrating Grandmother’s 85th birthday with almost all of the family and several dear friends from church, and sharing the celebration with the residents and aides at the nursing home. Even though it doesn’t seem like it should since so much has changed, life goes on. And His faithfulness hasn’t wavered.
My family is walking through a time when grief will hit again unexpectedly, triggered by a word or memory or conversation and we don’t even see it coming. We’re walking through a time of adjusting, even still after almost a year, to Grandmother’s new reality. My parents are walking through a time with questions still unanswered about their own new reality with the sale of their business. And Clay and I, along with our whole church family are walking through a time of unanswered questions about our future as a church as we wait for a pastor. One thing Clay and I have learned throughout our marriage is this: no one knows what the next year will bring. And that has been driven home in lots of big ways since December 7 of last year. So much has changed, but His faithfulness has not wavered at all.
I believe that God is completely Sovereign, so I know that He had the power to prevent or change each situation. He didn’t. He allowed the hard things into our lives. I also believe that God is good. So He must have a good reason for doing so. And that is what I cling to. That is how I can be thankful. I’ll be honest, I can’t say that I’m thankful Grandmother had a stroke. I can’t say I’m thankful that Granddaddy died. I can’t say I’m thankful for broken marriages, miscarriages, or church controversies. But I can say this: I’m thankful that God keeps His promises. I’m thankful that He will use each situation to work good in my life and in the lives of all those affected by it. I’m thankful that God is in control and none of these things happened randomly or without His permission. And I’m thankful–even though it’s painful at first–that life goes on. We don’t have to stay in our place of sadness. It feels strange starting out when so much has changed, but life goes on. Children still alternate between playing and arguing. Someone still needs to put ice in the glasses. There will still be tons of leftovers even though everyone ate too much. And this year, we adjust our dinner conversation to tell funny stories from the nursing home happenings that inside we wish we had no reason to know. We slowly adjust to the change in fits and starts, and life goes on. And we see that His faithfulness never wavered through the worst of it.
Mostly, though, I’m thankful for the life that’s going on just beyond our sight–the eternal life that Granddaddy is already experiencing. I’m thankful that one day, no one will ever have to adjust to a stroke, a death, a miscarriage, a broken marriage, a broken dream again. I’m thankful for the mind-boggling truth that I will get to hug my Granddaddy again and understand what Grandmother is saying to me. I’m thankful that even though we can’t understand it until we get there, we can bank on the promise of walking with Jesus on a New Earth where all things are right and we will see clearly how and why He orchestrated our lives to include these temporary pains. And I’m thankful that that’s the life that will go on without end. And I’m thankful that His faithfulness will never waver.